In the English Standard Version there are 53 references to verses that contain reference to scripture in the New Testament. Other versions can have as many as 59. One of the most referred to and familiar to all of us is 2 Timothy 3:16 – “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…..” We cannot overlook the fact that even in the Old Testament writings God wanted his people to keep His words close.
The Torah, or the Pentateuch, is the central reference of the religious Judaic tradition. The Torah consists of the foundational narrative of Jewish peoplehood: their call into being by God, their trials and tribulations, and their covenant with their God, which involves following a way of life embodied in a set of moral and religious obligations and civil laws. Just as we do today when we carry our bibles, the Jew in that day carried God’s word with him.
Phylacteries are a set of small black leather boxes containing scrolls of parchment inscribed with verses from the Torah. They are worn by male observant Jews during weekday morning prayers. God’s word was the very center of Jewish life. Our world of communications today offers many choices of ways to read, study and obtain knowledge about most any subject and increases the ways we get information to people and increase their knowledge of what we are about.
The church today is blessed that there are so many ways to reach the churched and un-churched. There many Christian writers and authors who now have access to a large market of readers and while I haven’t counted the many ways available to take the written word to the people, it exceeds anything we may have imagined just a few short years ago. This is all good and I do not seek to marginalize any method used to lift up the word of God and make it available to as many as possible. One thing we must do is to use every resource available to take the Good News to the world. I do have one concern to share with you in today’s blog. Because of the proliferation of reading and study material and commentaries, which I use often, I have noticed less reading and studying of the bible itself. We now have the bible on iPhones, iPads, computers and even computer disks. We have also developed a habit of using bible studies from books written by a favorite author and while these are a great learning tool they lack one thing. So what is that thing and what is my concern? Context, that is my concern. The Bible is best understood in its total context. Often scripture is used to prove a point or elevate a position of a person or group by pulling one or a few verses to serve their purpose. Context is important because of what it does….context is the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed.
I use Bible Gateway to look up scriptures and also the many tools they offer to help in studying the bible. When I chose this subject as this weeks blog I entered the word scripture in one of their search engines. In every verse of scripture listed per my request was three options. ” Context, Verse, Full Book.” What does “context” mean? One more time!
“The circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed.”
Reading our bibles strengthens our relationship with the word as written and does these three things.
- Scripture inspires: Luke 24:32 “They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”
- Scripture tells about Jesus and brings the good news of salvation: Acts 8:35 “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.”
- Scripture can teach, lift us up and give us strength: Romans 15:4 “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
There are so many ways to study the bible and all are worthy of consideration but I encourage you to read “The Book”. Keep the written word of God close to your heart and ever in your mind.
Hope to see you here in the Pew next week,
References: Wikipedia / Bible Gateway